Interview by Tony CannellaThe German metal band Xandria are currently on tour in North America with Sonata Arctica and Delain. This is one of the better tours out there. On a sweltering late summer afternoon I was able to sit down to talk to new front lady Dianne van Giersbergen, about her first recording experience with Xandria, her inaugural U.S. tour and… pancakes. It was an enjoyable experience and this is what she had to say… First off, please tell us a little about the new album “Sacrificium” and how would you describe it to anyone who may not have heard it?
It’s a symphonic metal album of course. It tells many tales, some of them are really about how to sacrifice yourself for a loved one, for a goal you believe in or for a better life. That when you die, the idea doesn’t die with you. That’s really the vision we had in mind. In the end, not all of the songs are about this. I must also say that when I joined Xandria all of the songs were already written, so the vision is way more with the guys. I share their view completely, but I don’t know exactly how everything originated.Where does the title “Sacrificium” come from?
It’s Latin and it’s also about this idea of sacrificing yourself for a better purpose.You are also a member of Ex Libris. How do you balance both bands, Xandria and Ex Libris?
Well, it’s difficult at times. We have to try to keep both bands as flexible as possible to see that there is time for both bands. The demand for Xandria is bigger because the band is bigger and they have more concerts. When Ex Libris is booked for a concert I will definitely play with them. It’s my baby, I founded the band over ten years ago and it’s not something that I want to give up.I wanted to ask you about a few of songs on the new album. “Sacrificium” opens with the 10-minute title song. Why did you decide to start the album with such a long track? It’s a great song and an awesome opener, in my opinion.
Well, thank you for that compliment. We had been discussing whether we should or shouldn’t do this. In the end we thought that it would be a really bold statement to put the longest track in the front row position. Everyone who buys the album or gives it its first spin will immediately know that this is us, this is Xandria, this is what the album stands for.How have the fans and the media reacted to “Sacrificium”?
I think really well, yeah. I’ve heard so many exciting experiences and people have big compliments. It’s been very enthusiastic.What songs on “Sacrificium” stand out for you the most?
Well of course two songs are special because I’ve written the lyrics to them – “Little Red Relish” and “Sweet Atonement”. So whenever I sing them of course it’s a different way of interpreting the lyrics. Other songs, of course “Nightfall” is very special to me because it is the video clip and it’s my first video clip ever.Yeah it’s a great video. Everyone should check it out.
Thank you! It was a very cold day when we did that video, but such a lovely experience, so whenever I sing that song I relive that day – not the cold, but all the good things.Being new to the band and this is your first album with Xandria, do you feel like you have to work that much harder to win over the fan base?
Actually, I’m not that concerned with “winning over” people. I’m just being myself. Presenting them with what I stand for, what I am vocally capable of. People accept me because of that. If you try to create something just to hit the market right and you don’t believe in it with your full heart then it’s just transparent.
You mentioned that you wrote lyrics to two songs on “Sacrificium”. Did you bring those lyrics to the band or were you already in the band when you wrote those?
Yeah, of course. I was in the studio so I heard all the songs without lyrics and Marco Heubaum –who also composes the songs and together with Joost van den Broek – he was starting to write lyrics and he approached me and said “well maybe we could swap some ideas” and also the lyrics that I didn’t write he would be happy to discuss these, what they should be about. In the end, we ended up with two songs that were still left over and I had the chance to do that.Will your creative input to the band grow on future albums?
Yeah, I think so. They have given me a lot of space and are very interested in my opinion. They really include me in the band.You’re on tour with Sonata Arctica and Delain now. How has it gone so far?
I love it. It’s just fabulous. It’s my first experience in a tour bus and I love it so far. Of course it has its disadvantages but if I go camping there are also disadvantages. I love a challenge.Is this your first time ever touring in North America?
Yes.What are your impressions so far?
I love it! I was here before when we flew to Miami for the 70,000 tons of metal cruise, so that was my first time in the U.S. ever. I just fell in love with your country; I love it, especially pancakes (laughs). Let me also say that the landscapes are marvelous. Tomorrow we have our first day off so we hope to do some sightseeing.What are your plans following the completion of this current tour you’re on?
When we get home and we get straight into a touring van and we drive to Switzerland for a headlining show and then the day after we play the MFVF (metal female voices festival). It’s going to be real hectic. Then we’ll have a week of rest, then there’s Russia on the calendar. There is more to come after that but the dates have not yet been released, so I can’t say.You mentioned you will be playing the Metal Female Voices festival. Are you excited about playing there?
Of course, of course, yeah. I also wanted to say I’m excited for every concert. It doesn’t matter how big the venue is, how great the name the city, a venue or festival has. For me it’s important that I entertain the people that come to see me. It doesn’t matter if there’s, for example if there would be two people tonight or 200,000 god knows where, as long as they enjoy the show, that’s all that matters.We’ve come to the end of this interview. Thank you for taking the time to answer these.
You’re very welcome.Do you have any final messages for the fans to sort of wrap this up?
Of course I want to welcome everyone to our show; we really love to meet everyone. I want to thank them for the support in welcoming me to the band. I’m just so thankful for everything.